The All-India Nabard Employees Association (AINBEA) has written to the Deputy Chief Labour Commissioner (Central), Mumbai, protesting the manner under which it was presented with a “keenly awaited but hopelessly truncated wage settlement, in letter and spirit”.

Signed under protest

The AINBEA Central Executive Committee that convened for detailed discussions in Mumbai has, however, decided to go ahead with the signing of the eighth bipartite wage settlement ‘under strong protest to be lodged simultaneously with the Chairman, Nabard,’ in order not to vitiate industrial relations.

“We were flummoxed to find that the management, reportedly at the instance of the Department of Financial Services (DFS), government of India, had offered us a truncated settlement, significantly curtailing benefits such as Grade Allowance as agreed and signed mutually on February 18,” Rana Mitra, General Secretary, AINBEA, wrote to the Deputy Chief Labour Commissioner.

Lower pay than earlier

“Moreover, the management informed us, in essence, that henceforth they will cease to honour the time-tested principle of ‘Equal Pay For Equal Work’ by segregating benefits like Grade Allowance for RBI ‘transferred employees’ as defined under clause 3 [r] of National Bank Staff Rules, 1982, and for staff recruited by Nabard since 1984,” said the letter, a copy of which is available with BusinessLine.

In Grade Allowance, in Group C cadre, for Senior and Special Category, it remains either the same (Senior Category), or got reduced by ₹350 (Special Category).“You may please agree, that possibly it is for the first time after a wage settlement, a category of employees will get less pay against a particular item in revised pay than what is available earlier,” Mitra pointed out.

Unilateral shift from terms

Consequent to clearance of the wage proposal pending with the DFS, the Nabard management had called for final discussions and signing of the final memorandum of wage settlement on September 21 in Mumbai. The AINBEA duly participated in the bipartite negotiation with the management.

“But, to our utter surprise, we found that the DFS and the Nabard management had unilaterally shifted from the agreed draft Memorandum of Settlement (MoS) dated February 18 signed between the management and the AINBEA and subsequently passed in the meeting of the Nabard Board of Directors on March 16, 2022.”

Ultra Vires agreement

Any unilateral change in the signed draft agreement is ultra vires the bipartite agreement and the record of notes on negotiation already signed on. This may not stand the scrutiny of law and is unprecedented in the history of the previous seven bipartite settlements from 1986 to 2017 arrived at between the management and the AINBEA.

Since the whole outcome was precipitated almost unilaterally, breaking well-settled principles of law, the AINBEA has decided ‘to carry forward the struggle using all democratic means.’

Mitra requested the Deputy Chief Labour Commissioner, who had played a unique and productive role in bringing about this settlement, to intervene effectively to break the current impasse even after its formal signing.